The ability to hold information in mind (working memory) helps us to stay on task and follow instructions. Typical four-year-olds can recite a series of four numbers and five year-olds can recite five numbers. Many four to six year-olds can recite a series of three numbers backwards.
Your child will now be able to tell you what happened in a story they listened to. They can also help create a simple story by taking turns with you to say what happened next.
Children, who are almost six years old, can also explain how things are the same and different. An example of this is: “These balls are the same because they are both red, but different because one is big and one is small,” or “A toothbrush and a hairbrush are the same because …. and different because …”
Tip: Finger game fun
Research shows that the brain region that controls our ability to sense where different fingers are positioned on our hands is so close to the brain region where the number line is visualised, that they overlap somewhat. When a group of young children were trained to quickly identify which finger the researchers touched while they weren’t looking, their maths skills improved.
Any parent can play this game: Simply draw the outline of your child’s hands on paper and put a coin next to it. Tell your child to hold their hands out and close their eyes. Touch one finger and ask them to look down at the sketch and put the coin on the corresponding finger. Repeat.
Source: Kaufmann L. et al. “A developmental fMRI study of nonsymbolic numerical and spatial processing.” Cortex, Volume 44, p.376–385, (2008). Gracia-Bafalluy M., Noël M. P. “Does finger training increase young children’s numerical performance?” Cortex, Volume 44, p.368–375, (2008).